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Flooding subsides, Hunter network re-opens

Newcastle coal terminal. Photo: Chris Mackey / Southern Cross Maritime

A staged return to service for trains on the Hunter Valley network began on Thursday afternoon, after bad weather and flooding led to the network’s closure earlier in the week.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation confirmed just after 1pm on Thursday that trains have started to run again on the network between Maitland and Newcastle.

A statement from the ARTC on Thursday morning said the track operator was planning a staged return to rail services after heavy flooding at Sandgate subsided overnight.

Water damage to some of the equipment between Sandgate and Warabrook was reported, with repairs scheduled. No major track infrastructure damage has been reported by the ARTC at this time.

“We will return services gradually and in line with the conditions throughout the afternoon,” ARTC said on Thursday morning.

“There remains sporadic flooding across the network and at the port [Newcastle], so we will continue to work closely with the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator to ensure a planned and safe return to coal services.”

NSW TrainLink passenger services have been replaced by coaches in many cases, with a return to service for passenger trains included in the ARTC’s staged return plans.

The network was closed after flooding started to impact services around 6pm on Tuesday, January 5.

Operators and the ARTC will no doubt be pleased the flooding appears to not be as bad as the period of bad weather midway through last year, which saw much of the network shut down for more than a week, and several major ballast washaways and other instances of track damage.

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